Chapter 6 Part 28
Translator : PolterGlast
An inexplicable silence filled the area as Zonne stood in front of Nozomu and the others with an aloof smile on his face.
Behind the old man was the Abyss Grief, which had formed a coc.o.o.n like a dome. But Zonne didn't seem to care and approached Nozomu with light steps.
"Wait a minute, kid. It's dangerous to just jump into that barrier without preparation."
"Why are you here, old man?... And what do you mean by barrier ..."
"Well, there's a lot of things going on. Oh, you're here for me, young lady! Umu! More importantly, I'm glad to see you're not hurt."
Zonne nodded his head happily, but Nozomu felt his frustration increasing.
Nozomu didn't know what was going on, but he could easily imagine that Lisa was in a dangerous situation right now.
Now was not the time to be doing this. Nozomu was going to snap. He glared at the coc.o.o.n and tried to slip through Zonne's side with a stride.
"If you want to pick up girls, do it somewhere else! I'm busy right now!"
"That's why I told you to calm down. There's no easy way out of this situation if you jump in recklessly."
However, Zonne quickly moved to block Nozomu's path and stood right in front of him.
"Don't worry. At least the red-haired girl won't be eaten to death right now. For now, the beast needs her.
Zonne's words and gaze, which were the most rational things, coolly penetrated Nozomu's nearly heated head.
Even with the agitation welling up from deep within his chest, Nozomu asked Zonne.
"... What do you mean?"
Indeed, Nozomu felt that there was a lack of information about the current situation.
What had happened to Ken? What had happened to Lisa?
All he knew was that the black demon beast was deeply involved in this matter and that the old man in front of him had some information and had come here with a definite purpose.
The light of reason returned to Nozomu's eyes, which had been glowing with impatience. Satisfied with Nozomu's behavior, Zonne nodded deeply once and slowly opened his mouth.
"That man who was parasitized by that beast, was in love with that red-haired girl, wasn't he? He was so in love with that red-haired girl to the extent that he betrayed you, his best friend ......."
Nozomu nodded in response to Zonne's question.
He wondered why the old man knew about his personal relationships, but he continued to listen to Zonne's story, determined to hear everything he had to say.
"As you know, that demon beast has extraordinary characteristic. It can fundamentally alter its host's body."
[Fundamentally alter its host's body]
Zonne's words reminded Nozomu of something. That was when Nozomu had encountered the Abyss Grief in the forest with Shīna and the others.
At that time, the Abyss Grief had taken the form of a four-legged beast with a tail as sharp as a guillotine blade.
When cornered by Nozomu and the others, the Abyss Grief transformed its entire neck into a giant mouth and added two more large sword-like tails. He had never heard of a demon beast that showed such a rapid transformation.
Furthermore, Ken's body just now. The mud-like liquid that came out of his body when he was cut in two by Nozomu's phantom was clearly not human bodily fluid.
"On the other hand, the demon beast itself is so unstable that it needs a core organism to exist inside it."
Zonne continued to speak, leaving Nozomu to his own thoughts.
"By that organism, do you mean any creature? For example, fleas, ticks, ......"
"No, if the creature is too small, it will disintegrate before it can stabilize itself. There's a lot more to it than just compatibility. If a parasite gets into an incompatible body, its survival time will be significantly reduced."
As he said this, Zonne looked at the destruction marks on the ground that was created by Jihad. No, what the old man was looking at was probably the body of Jibin who had died there.
His shattered body was no longer intact, but when he saw the corpse, Zonne's eyes squinted in mourning.
"...... Also, the demon beast will eventually contaminate the host's soul, controlling and manipulating it at will, but to do so, it will cunningly exploit the cracks in the host's heart. That's why it needs to present the existence that the host desires. In order to make the host accept its domination, and to make it more powerful and easier to control..."
The existence that the host desires. The moment Nozomu heard those words, a shock ran down his spine, as if lightning had struck him.
The image of the girl of his first love came to his mind.
Ken, who had become the host of Abyss Grief. There was only one person he could think of that Ken couldn't stop seeking.
"No way ..."
"That's right. The woman the man who became the core wanted. By taking her in, the demon beast is about to be reborn as a more powerful being. The host has an insane obsession with that girl. It makes sense that the demon beast would want to take her in first."
With a shrug of his shoulders, Zonne looked back at the dome.
There was a coc.o.o.n in which the Abyss Grief which literally became a pupa, using Ken as its core and Lisa as its chrysalis.
"That coc.o.o.n is a predatory barrier that fuses the captured beings at the level of the soul. If you jump in recklessly, your bones and even your soul will be devoured and you'll be used as food for that demon beast."
"So, if we destroy that coc.o.o.n, we can ......"
"Sure, you may be able to defeat the demon beast. However, that demon beast has already begun to take in the soul of the red-haired girl. If you are careless about destroying it, it might even crush the young lady's soul."
"No way ..."
If this coc.o.o.n were to be left alone, Lisa's death was certain. But they couldn't even destroy it carelessly. Nozomu sighed at the desperate situation.
Irisdina and the others were all biting their lips as well.
In the meantime, Inda, who was listening to the conversation behind them, let out a voice of suspicion.
"Old man, who are you ..."
"Me? As you can see, I’m a wandering hero!"
"I'm curious as well. You didn't even give me a hint of your skill until you got here. Who the h.e.l.l are you? At the very least, there is no way that we could not have heard of someone as skilled as you."
Jihad stepped forward to take over Inda's words. There was obvious suspicion in his eyes.
"Besides, I've never heard of such a story regarding the Abyss Grief. But this situation, at least, doesn't deny that information."
As for Abyss Grief, due to the lack of sightings, only a few details were known about it. There was no way to regain the land that had been invaded by the demon beasts.
However, the old man in front of them was clearly speaking with conviction about the Abyss Grief.
"Information we didn't know. Even here, with the most advanced technology on this continent, there are still too many unknowns about Abyss Grief. Who are you to know about that information? It's impossible for us not to be concerned about it."
Jihad stepped in front of Zonne.
Those present watched with bated breath as the two stood there, keeping their gazes fixed on each other.
"You seem to be suspicious of me."
"At the very least, there is nothing to dispel my suspicions about you. If you could, I would ask you to disclose all the information you have about Abyss Grief. Perhaps you know of a way to help Lisa Hounds and Ken Notis?"
Nozomu's eyes widened at Jihad's sudden words, and Zonne let out a small whistling sound.
"Why do you think so?"
"You just said, "Don't go in there recklessly." If so, isn't it possible to get into that coc.o.o.n by taking some measures?"
"It could be just my guess, right?"
"But you're not lying, are you?"
Jihad's eyes squinted, a sense of intimidation emanating from his entire body and enveloped only the old man in that place.
On the other hand, Zonne just felt it like a breeze.
"... If we can't cooperate, there's nothing we can do. We are going to use all our strength to destroy that coc.o.o.n."
They had been facing each other in silence, but Jihad's sudden declaration caused Nozomu and the others to shout in surprise.
But they also understood. If Abyss Grief were to revive without destroying that coc.o.o.n, it was easy to imagine that it would cause a great deal of damage to this city.
Their opponent was an unidentified monster. The ability of this monster was not to be underestimated, and its vitality and fighting ability were beyond compare.
Even if they were able to defeat the monster without any damage, they would surely be criticized for not taking action before it ressurected.
"That demon beast was seen ten years ago and is believed to be involved in the great invasion. It may sound heartless, but we can't let go of such a dangerous existence in a city like this. ......"
Inda agreed with Jihad's words, but both of them were gritting their teeth as if they were chewing on a bitter bug. They probably had feelings of regret about this incident.
"We don't want them to die like this. It may sound like an excuse, but we teachers are also responsible for what has happened to them ... That's why I want you to cooperate with us."
Jihad requested Zonne's cooperation in a strong tone. The words were low and inflected, but they might as well have been a plea. In fact, he was prepared to get down on his knees if necessary.
If a head of an organization were to bow his head. The significance of this was very great.
The world is ruled by leaders obsessed with the forbidden fruit of power. Showing weakness in a world like this could leave a huge opportunity and a heavy price to pay.
To put it another way, that was how much Jihad loved this city and its students. Even if he didn't say it directly and clearly.
"Hmmm. I'm not sure if there is any definite way to help those who have become its core. The young man from the military police would have been impossible to save, as he was completely controlled..."
Zonne took one more glance at Jibin's body and squinted his eyes apologetically.
But as soon as he faced Jihad, he let out a deep breath and opened his mouth.
"But I have my reasons, too. I can't tell you everything."
Zonne looked apologetic and refused to disclose all the information he had regarding the Abyss Grief.
Jihad was aware of this and nodded without any sign of being surprised. However, there was a kind of determination in his eyes.
"Well, there's still a way, right?..."
Jihad gripped the hilt of the giant sword he carried.
In other words, it was a sign that he was willing to use any means necessary so that he could obtain the information.
It was a sign of his determination to protect his beloved city and his students, and he was willing to use force.
Perhaps sensing Jihad's determination, the military police surrounding the area all raised their will to fight.
Seeing their reaction, Zonne exhaled loudly, as if he had no choice.
"As I thought, I have no choice but to do this..."
Muttering in an inaudible voice, Zonne raised the staff in his right hand and lightly tapped the ground.
In the next moment, an extremely complicated magic circle unfolded on the entire ground in front of the library.
It was a mandala-like technique in which a circular formation was entwined like a maze.
The magic circle, which even Jihad and Inda, let alone Nozomu, had never seen before, shone powerfully, and all the military police officers present, as well as Lansa, who had been protected by them, fell down like a broken doll.
Nozomu and the others were so surprised that they were speechless. For a moment, Nozomu and the others thought they were dead, but upon closer inspection, they noticed that the chest of the fallen military police officers was moving up and down regularly. They seemed to be breathing well.
However, at the same time, the thought of Zonne's ability to disable the military police officers in less than a second sent chills down their spines.
At the very least, in order to activate magic, it was necessary to go through a number of processes, such as constructing a formula, filling it with magic power, and activating it.
They wondered if it had been aided by abilities such as Irisdina's immediate deployment, but even so, the scale was too different. It was hard to imagine a means of deploying such a large scale of magic in an instant.
However, as Nozomu and the others froze in surprise, Zonne's eyes widened and his mouth gaped.
What was in front of Zonne was Jihad and Inda, who were supposed to sleep, gritting their teeth as they tried to stand up.
"Ku, Kuoo ..."
Jihad desperately raised his upper body while biting his lips and stood up with his own feet. Inda was not able to stand, but she was desperately enduring Zonne's technique by piercing the back of her hand with her own nails through her magic power.
"Hmm. It seems that you are indeed different from the other military police officers. If I made it too powerful, they might not wake up until they die, so I had to hold back to a certain extent, but even so, I never thought you would be able to resist on your own ..."
"Haa, haa, what are you ..."
"I'm not hostile to you. Well, I have something to do in this city, that's for sure ..."
(Or rather, I have something to do with that boy ...)
Zonne glanced at Nozomu while muttering so that his voice would not be leaked out. Nozomu felt as if his heart had been gripped due to the seriousness in Zonne's gaze, which was different from the goofy and carefree gaze of Zonne up until now.
But that feeling was short-lived. In the next moment, Nozomu felt a sudden urge in his heart.
(Y-you, you are ... !!)
Tiamat's voice echoed in his mind. Tiamat let out a surprised tone as if it had seen something somewhat impossible.
The next moment, an intense headache struck Nozomu that he had never felt before.
"What the... Gugaa!"
"Nozomu-san, what's wrong ?"
Irisdina and the others opened their eyes to Nozomu, who suddenly began to suffer, and rushed over to him in a panic.
But Nozomu had no time to answer their desperate cries.
It was as if his brain was being raked over the coals with burning tongs. The pain was so intense that Nozomu fell to his knees involuntarily.
A headache that was incomparable to the one he had when he was fighting Ken. No, it was the worst headache he had ever felt, and it was racking Nozomu's head.
"T-this guy! Be quiet ... Guh~!"
Nozomu closed his eyes tightly and tried to endure the pain, but the headache was more intense than he had ever felt before, and he could only grit his teeth and endure it.
His vision was going blank, and his hatred was boiling up like an erupting volcano.
Even though he knew that it was Tiamat's hatred, Nozomu desperately gritted his teeth to prevent his ego from being swallowed up.
(Let me out! Let me out of here!
A giant dragon rampaging inside Nozomu's soul.
The hatred that welled up in Nozomu's heart ignited his negative spirit, his resentment towards the unreasonable and Ken and the others, and tried to fill his soul with hatred.
"Shut up ...! Be quiet ...!"
As he continued to suppress the anger to the point of being angry enough to turn the vision in front of him red while muttering quietly to himself, a clear sound of water suddenly echoed in Nozomu's ears.
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It was a sound he had heard many times in his dreams.
A simple contract that she made in the forest at that time. She never erased it.
What was the reason? Come to think of it, when he was suffering from Tiamat's voice before, Nozomu thought he heard her voice .......
That event came back to Nozomu's mind. Shīna did not look at Nozomu's face and kept looking down.
However, there was no negative feeling of rejection in her behavior. If anything, she seemed to be embarra.s.sed.
In the meantime, Zonne, Irisdina, and the others had somehow resumed their conversation with Jihad and Inda.
Shīna's cheeks, peeking out from her drooping bangs, seemed to be turning red somehow, but Nozomu turned his attention back to the discussion with a feeling of reluctance.
"So, what do you think? It's worth a try, don't you think?"
"Indeed, it is not impossible. Instead of going in alone, the advantage of being able to use contract magic for support is great..."
Jihad's mind quickly drew several inferences from Zonne's suggestion and repeatedly tested them.
The simplest one was to ignore Zonne's advice and destroy the Abyss Grief coc.o.o.n.
In exchange for the lives of the two students, the safety of the city would be guaranteed.
To be honest, Jihad thought at first that this was the only choice.
The opponent was an unidentified demon beast whose biology was completely unknown. In addition, it was extremely dangerous, and he couldn't imagine the damage it would cause if it were to reproduce. If he wasn't careful, it could even destroy a country.
However, the existence of the old man named Zonne in front of him, made that impossible. From Jihad's point of view, this old man was too abnormal.
In an instant, he could put a dozen people to sleep and bring even an S rank to his knees. And he did it without any difficulty.
Jihad's unparalleled talent and experience continue to ring alarm bells. "Never fight the old man in front of you." Jihad gulped at the presence he had never felt before.
He didn't know what Zonne's purpose was.
But the old man in front of him was very concerned about Nozomu Bountis. That was easy to imagine from Zonne's words and actions, and he himself seemed to have no intention of hiding it.
However, he also felt that a line had been completely drawn between them. While giving information, Zonne made it clear that there were some things he could not answer clearly.
Various questions and unanswerable guesses were running through his head. As if to discipline himself from getting stuck in a maze of thoughts, Jihad decided to go back to his fundamental reason for being in this city.
"... My mission is to protect this city."
To protect the city. That is Jihad's mission, a mission he has imposed on himself.
"But it's also about nurturing the future generations and supporting them until they can leave the nest. If we can save even one more young life, it's worth a try."
However, the mission of the school is to nurture and protect the young birds that will lead the future until the time they leave the nest.
If he were to abandon the lives of the students who could potentially be saved here, he would be no different from a merchant, selling weapons for personal gain.
Jihad told himself so and decided to go along with Zonne's suggestion.
"But when you make the contract, you have to connect the path to me as well. That's the condition."
However, he could not leave everything to the students. With that in mind,
Jihad offered a condition that connected himself to the path with contract magic.
In the event of an emergency, he would enter the predatory barrier himself and save Nozomu Bountis alone.
"... I understand. Well then, I'll connect the path with all the people here. The contract magic will be done by the elf lady, and I'll do the rest."
While saying so, Zonne once again touched the ground with the tip of his staff.
Once again, an extremely complex magic circle unfolded in front of Nozomu and the others.
The magic circle quickly enveloped the entire plaza in front of the library, forming a glowing white dome of light.
"This way, anything that happened inside this barrier won't leak out, and the people outside won't be aware of what happens here. Oh, and while we're at it, let's get the military police officers and the young lady who slept out of here, too."
It was a kind of isolation barrier. Zonne waved his staff three times.
The military police and Lansa, enveloped in white light, floated up and were carried out of the glowing white magic formation.
After watching the last one, Barozza, being carried out of the barrier, Zonne opened his mouth again.
"One more thing, I want to prepare for the worst-case scenario. If the damage is likely to spread to the city, we will have to destroy the coc.o.o.n without question. In that case, Lisa and Ken, as well as Nozomu, will be killed ..."
Jihad spoke so clearly, saying that in the worst-case scenario, they might have to abandon all three of them inside.
There was a hint of bitterness on Jihad's stern expression.
Normally, Nozomu was the one Jihad had to protect. He must be regretting the burden he continued to place on him.
"I don't mind. Please do it."
However, contrary to Jihad's grave words, Nozomu replied in an easy-going manner. There was no hesitation in his words.
"Besides, even if I can't escape and the coc.o.o.n is destroyed, it doesn't mean I'm going to die. Right, Oldman ?"
"Well ... it certainly doesn't mean you're determined to die. But honestly, I can't be sure if it won't affect the way you get out of it."
"Even so, it's okay. It's a bad thing to expect from something uncertain, and it's risky, but the possibilities are not zero."
Nozomu himself did not want to question the possibility now. He had originally intended to jump into the Abyss Grief's predatory barrier from the beginning.
"Besides, I already promised ..."
A promise to support Lisa, a promise that had dissolved like a bubble, even though each of the three of them had brought it on themselves.
However, Nozomu did not choose to abandon Lisa and Ken here.
Even though it was hard, there was a future where they could laugh together. If there was even the slightest chance of grasping that, Nozomu was going to do everything in his power.
(Even if we go our separate ways, I want us to be able to walk forward.)
That was the reason why Nozomu stayed in this school now.
"Sorry, I leave it to you ..."
Jihad muttered an apology, but Nozomu silently shook his head.
"…. Let's start"
"Umu, then ..."
Nozomu urged Zonne in a clear voice, looking straight at him.
Zonne deployed a multiple magic formation on the ground. The formation spread out like ripples, enveloping Nozomu and the others in the blink of an eye. It might be just a formation used for contract magic, but the speed and scale of its deployment were still unbelievable.
Shīna closed her eyes and focused on the path that connected her to Nozomu.
A blue magic light enveloped her and then dispersed. The scattered magic power poured down on the people in the barrier and enveloped them.
It was like the light of the moon, a magical light with a strange warmth.
Eventually, the magic power that had been scattered began to disappear. However, Nozomu could still feel the warmth of the magic power enveloping his body.
The path must have been firmly connected. Nozomu could feel a definite connection with the people who were there.
Nozomu turned to face the coc.o.o.n that still shone with a murky light. He gripped his katana at his waist and turned to look at his childhood friends who were probably inside the coc.o.o.n.
"Nozomu, be careful ..."
Nodding silently to Irisdina, who was calling out to him from behind, Nozomu ran off toward the predatory barrier.
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